Wow, it’s again more than a month ago that I wrote something. I’ll start at the beginning, or at least at the end of my previous writing.
Wodan had a small cold and infection on his airways, the veterinarian subscribed him antibiotics for 5 days. First it seemed we could stay in a meadow we were at that time, till he would get better. But after 2 days the farmer decided he wanted the meadow back anyway for his cows. Sarah and Liam (a boy of 8 months) came by and we harnessed the horses to stop again at the first meadow. Wodan was looking forward to it, but was quickly out of breath. We got a meadow presented by a riding school after 2 km, a nice meadow near a small stream. A good place to give Wodan his peace. We stayed a few days till Wodan was in good shape again!
I also finally took the time to make my hat of dreads, a plan that was in my head for a long time, and with the autumn in sight an ideal time.
It was for the first time to live so closely to a small human of 8 months. Liam is really a happy boy that goes into the world with a smile and lots of curiosity. And Sarah is a great mother! It was nice to have company again after my lonely period!
Wodan, God of the thunder, strong a she is, healed quickly!! So we could harness again and follow the road to new meetings and views. We followed the Sée, a river in direction of Avranches and the bay of Mont-Saint-Michel. The second night we were invited by Kristof who offered the meadow of his father. We ate with his parents and he welded my small “water cart”, which rides better now. It was a nice meeting, and he advised me not to follow the bay to Mont-Saint-Michel and Bretagne, but to follow first the coast at the north side. Because there are beautiful sights and tons of lovely people. I hesitated because I had Bretagne in my head for such a long time. The next day on the road again, and arrival in Avranches! The direction I’ve been following for 2 months, I don’t really know why. It felt a bit like a triumph to arrive at last. Of course this was only a destination to have a direction. In Avranches, just before making the decision to drive to Bretagne or the north side of the bay, Kristof stops with his car. The road chooses itself because he advised us a beautiful plac for the night. We drive in the direction of “Pointe du Grouin du Sud”. A place with a beautiful view on Mont-Saint-Michel.
That night we meet a couple and their son of 1,5 years. He travelled with a horse through Spain and Portugal and they’ve been traveling already for a long time through Europe. People with the same life view and ideals, who are settling now. They invite us on their terrain, where they live in a chariot and a camion. The next day we drive 5 km to arrive with them, on our way we see another camion with sun panels on the roof and a big bus beside it (where I go later to drink a beer and eat pancakes). After so few “alternative places”, I’m really surprised and full expectation.
I feel immediately at home, a super nice meeting. The place/chariot immediately reminded me of my own place in Alken (Belgium). The vegetable garden was still full with food and there were animals everywhere. Pigs, ducks, chickens, sheep, dogs,… I stayed there in the end for more than 2 weeks. I learned fishing in the bay, helped digging a well and got to know a lot of sympathic/bizarre people in the village. Lots of warm meetings, cozy evenings, interesting chats. I didn’t knew why I’ve been following this direction so long with my cart? But after so long on the road with a vague feeling, I had the feeling to have arrived for a while.
One day a man came by who’s been travelling for 19 years with horse and cart through Europe! His horse and cart where at the other side of the bay, but he heard where I was and came by. A short, interesting chat, and he left again with his small cart.
Sarah and Liam left again to the south. And from the south, new visit arrived. Cecile, who also helped my previous winter with the horses and the production of the mini-chariots. She came by and the first she said was I will squad your cart for a while and I while look for a horse and a cart of my own to travel. It felt good travelling with 2, this winter looking for a spot together to build a second cart en probably soon to get to know another horse. So if everything goes well we leave in the spring with 2 chariots, 3 horses and 4 dogs. Cecile also has 2 dogs so right now we have 4 barking hairy friends, sometimes a little too much in a small chariot.
After 2 weeks of pause it started to itch again, and to go on the road again. This had to wait for a while since one of Wodan’s hoofs had loosened. So I waited for a blacksmith. And the next visit didn’t kept me waiting. Lise came by to travel along for a week. So when the hoof was made again by a friendly blacksmith, we went on the road with 3 people, 4 dogs and 2 horses. We went back in the direction of Avranches, to go in the direction of Bretagne. The first night we stopped again at le Grouin du Sud.
The next day we passed Avranches, took the bridge over the Sée and turned in the direction of le Mont-Saint-Michel. We stopped at a side of the road where there was just enough grass to fill the horses for one night.
The next morning the usual routine, cleaning up the cart, breaking up the meadow, harnessing the horses and once in a while some coffee. And we could leave again. The day didn’t went so well, Ilja coughed and lost an iron, and Wodan is unstoppable, he’s going every direction and wants to trot constantly, soon I’m totally exhausted! Luckily, because of the pause we were standing still, I have collected some names and addresses, and I call a person who lives in the village. He comes with his bike and we follow him to his home where we get a nice meadow. We start calling around for a blacksmith and a veterinarian. The veterinarian came the same day. I also wanted one to come because the teeth of Ilja had to be scraped, since he dropped again grass out of his mouth. Ilja seemed to have the same as Wodan previously, and he got the same antibiotics subscribed as Wodan before. The teeth were scraped, but I had the feeling he didn’t had much experience! The previous times it went smooth, but this time it took a long time and Ilja of course didn’t like the machinery which was keeping his mouth so long open. It’s a big difference when it takes 10 minutes or more than half an hour. He got some anesthesia to keep calm, and instead of “hand tools”, the teeth were scraped with a file on a drill. On the road, you can’t really choose between veterinarians, and you never really know which one is the right one. It hurts to see the veterinarian struggle (of course he did his best and with the best intentions). It was harder than the previous times, but in the end his teeth were well shaped.
So we decided to stay some more to give Ilja his peace and to keep on calling around for a blacksmith. This didn’t seem very simple, it’s a region with a lot of horses and everyone is very busy.
Ilja seems to be curing soon, but we will let him rest anyway for a bit longer. We take the time for a small walk with the horses, and share our knowledge for making bracelets and juwels. Lise learns us to make rondellen from wood. Beautiful small round forms which make later with macramé a nice necklace. We make them like mad people. And further, we call around for a blacksmith. Jacky, our host, takes us to show his horses, sheep and goats. He also has a chariot which he uses sometimes to travel a week with the horses. It’s a nice contact.
The day we reached a blacksmith who would come probably that evening, there was also a blacksmith working in a riding school 100 meters from us. We decide to ask him also. He wants to repair quickly the iron, so we take Ilja there. I ask him if he wants to teach me to lace the iron, and we do it together. For me the first time I nail a nail in the hoof of a horse. An exciting experience! But actually not that difficult. You just have to make sure the nail goes in the right direction. Again an iron that was free repaired!! And a big milestone for me to travel more autonomous. That night the other blacksmith comes by, he seems to be a friend of Jacky, instead we drink a nice aperitif. ;)
Ilja seemed to be better and the irons were good again, so we wanted on the road again. We started our journey, everything seemed ready, but Cecile hurted herself at her hand with a picket from the meadow. We decided to go to the hospital, to see if her hand wasn’t hurt too bad. Lise stayed with the horses and the dogs and Cecile and me “enjoyed” ourselves with a day on the emergency. It seemed to be a serious deep wound, but luckily nothing in the hand was dangerously hit, and it will cure good. The next day we could take off. Lise travelled with us for one more day. That day we got food for the horses again, toilet paper and vegetables offered. Wodan still acts a little annoying in front of the cart, but we adjusted his belts and it went much better. 2 times people said us to drive in the direction of Renée, an old guy who works with work horses his whole life (sort: cob normand). We arrive and he welcomes us with a big smile and he takes us immediately to his meadow. Lise leaves hitchhiking with a lot of travelling plans, and Renée takes us to his horses. It was a great time having Ilse on the cart! A smile and a positive energy which filled the wagon and helped us in difficult times! Renée’s horses are unbelievable beautiful, especially Royal, a young castrated male horse. Besides this, his horses are for sell, and we are dreaming for a long time to travel with 3 horses. Royal is by far the most beautiful horse I met on my journey, and he has irons, is traffic tame, can be rided and harnessed for a cart in single and double harness. Our dream breaks quickly as we know the price: 4000 euro, far above the budget. But if anyone has ridiculously much money and wants to make Cecile incredibly happy and help her with her dream… Royal would be a nice birthday gift ;)
After some hours with 2 in the wagon, hup the next visitor. The son of Cecile, Mael, arrives to spend his vacation in the wagon. We drive the next morning through the pouring rain and stop at 1 km from the Mont-Saint-Michel, which we have seen from every side by now. Ilja coughs again a little, se we decide to give him another day of rest. I bike at night to the Mont, the moon lights up the bay, and I walk around in the middle ages, small roads and stairs, everywhere cats stare at me. Sometimes a lost Japanese. A magical bizarre atmosphere.
And we travel further, at last the Mont is behind us and we drive into Bretagne. We drive through the polders, everything is flat. It is nice driving and Ilja seems better again. We easily find a spot and decide to go south the next day, through Bretagne in the direction of Nantes. And hup Wodan loses again an iron, it really doesn’t go well, the 3th iron in 2 weeks, my first idea is tja, searching for a meadow, call and wait for a blacksmith, but Cecile encouraged me to do it myself. I should take the step one day and I would be able to do it after the explenation of the blacksmith. I decide to do it, next to the road and with the horses still harnessed I put the iron quickly back on. And PROUD that I am, the iron seems to be standing perfect and al nails just come outside!! But once in the polders, when the hills start again, it soon comes clear that Ilja still has a hard time. We look for a meadow, but this one is too small to stay long. So we decide to leave the next day and search for a bigger meadow to stop longer and call a veterinarian again. We come close to today. The day before yesterday we went further and found a beautiful big meadow surrounded by woods. We start calling a veterinarian immediately, who came that same day in the afternoon. It seemed to be worse than we thought!! He has an infection on his glands, which has descended to his lift lung. This veterinarian appears to do his research more thoroughly than the previous veterinarian. I ask myself question about the previous veterinarian, but I’m glad that this one seems to have more experience and does his job more thorough. Ilja gets another kind of antibiotics, an aggressive antibiotic that works 10 days. When this antibiotic doesn’t work, Ilja has to go to a “horse hospital” to get an endoscopy (a small camera which goes in trough the mouth to look at everything), and to search for a better treatment. The veterinarian warned me that when this is the case, it will be probably a long and expensive treatment, and there is the danger that it is chronic. When he’s done I go with him with my small bike ro pay him and do some shopping in the city. But I get a message from Cecile that Ilja reacts strongly on the antibiotics. This would be a normal reaction. A reaction that looks like colic with a horse, strong perspiration, constantly wanting to lie down, being weak on the legs. Of course I’m worried and I bike like a mad man back to Cecile and Ilja. The reaction normally takes about 10 minutes, but with Ilja it’s almost 45 minutes. He seems to be hyper sensitive for this antibiotics. Cecile walks constantly around with him, encourages him to stand up again. When I arrive, it just goes 5 minutes better with him, and Cecile is exhausted. It was an extreme experience for her! And I feel guilty that I wasn’t there, but that is of course pointless. Luckily Cecile was there, and she did a great job!! So now it’s waiting and hope and believe that the antibiotics will do their job and that Ilja gets better. When it works we should see recovery after about 5 days, and after 10 days it should be totally all right. If not, I would have to fix transport for him to go to a horse hospital. I’m hoping for the best!!!! But I’m also preparing for longer problems. So we will be pausing for at least 10 days, we’re on a meadow which is according to the farmers from “no one” or from the community, and I hope we can stay here peacefully till it goes better, and we won’t get troubles with local authority and/or the police. We let Ilja graze quietly on the meadow, and since his teeth is sharpened, he gains a bit weight every day! That gives hope. We go walking every day with Wodan to keep up his condition, and to lose some energy. Cecile leaves Sunday with Mael for a week or 2, and my parents arrive on Friday. So it will be 5 days alone on my meadow, this is of course not the first time, but with nothing to do and worrying about Ilja, it will be difficult. Ilja can use all the positive energy and healing waves, so send them this way! However I’m worried and it’s hard to let go, I enjoy the sunshine and the autumn, the walks with Wodan, the view on my horses and the cart beneath the beautiful star sky…
So it’s thrilling waiting, and if everything goes well we leave calm in a day or 10, and if not I will do everything in my power to help Ilja cure.
Some more pictures from our current place and that’s it for this time, when I have news about Ilja I will share it soon!
So I didn’t move much the previous month, I’m just beneath 1000 km and I’m in Epiniac.